Viva Kerala revitalises football

Kerala is a state that once produced footballers of the calibre of IM Vijayan and Joe Paul Ancheri.

updated: November 02, 2007 07:28 IST
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New Delhi:

Kerala is a state that once produced footballers of the calibre of IM Vijayan and Joe Paul Ancheri.

But even though there is still a huge craze for football in Kerala, there have never been an adequate number of teams to show for it at the national level.

Viva Kerala is trying to change that.

The team was eliminated in the pre-quarter finals of the Durand Cup, but the owners have a long term plan in mind -- proper coaching and administration.

One look at the Viva Kerala website and you get a pretty good idea of the countless aspirations that are riding on the only team from Kerala in the profesional National football league.

And the sense of urgency can be felt in the locker room as well. Kerala, one of the biggest hubs of football in the country has not had any representation in the national league ever since the high profile FC Kochin wrapped up in 2003 due to financial problems.

"So it's very important that a club from Kerala is in the Indian professional league so the professional league can play matches in Kerala where there is massive crowd support and the team can do well over there, so it's an opportunity for local players to develop," said Novy Kapadia, Football commentator.

Long term development and not short term success is what a group of local businessman in Ernakulam had in mind when they got together in 2004 to set up a team that would represent Kerala. They were determined not to repeat the mistakes made by FC Kochin.

FC Kochi really burst onto the Indian football circuit. They wanted to rise fast and quick. They spent a lot of money, recruited a number of foreign players.

But a lack of foresight cost them. They ran into financial problems and had to fold up.

Viva Kerala did not want to repeat those mistakes. They wanted to take the slow, steady and sure path up.

"In Kerala, since last three to four years, there was no team in the national league, this team was in the third division last year," said AM Sreedharan, coach, Viva Kerala. "I thought I could help them and with the help of the administration brought them to the national level."

"I want to take this team to the highest heights, sky is the limit. I am the captain and want to lead this team to the highest heights," said Mireku Yaw Amenkwah Captain, Viva Kerala.

The captains dream ended early at the Durand Cup this year as Viva Kerala lost to formidable Salgaoncar in the pre-quarters.

The team though is determined to stick it out and continue their slow and steady approach.

Next stop NFL, where undoubtedly this will be an outfit to watch out for.